Is Caffeine Driving You Nuts?
What does caffeine do to your brain? Does it give energy or just trick your brain into thinking you aren’t tired?
In a perfect world, I would have an automatic coffee refilling mug with an endless supply of ground beans, Starbucks would deliver at my beck and call. Alas, the world is crooked, and scientists have pronounced, that caffeine can cause a temporary mental disorder!
But it’s temporary, so it’s fine, right? (wishes the person who measures her life in coffee spoons!)
According to a research published in medical journal DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), caffeine is one of the oldest and most widely used drug for behaviour modification. So essentially, it is an over-the-counter medication that’s we’re sipping for that extra jolt.
Impact of Caffeine on Brain
Millions of people use coffee as a pick-me-up. With the sales of aerated beverages and energy drinks shooting up, our love affair with caffeine is showing no signs of slowing down.
Once caffeine enters your bloodstream, it binds with the neuro-receptors called Adenosine in the brain. Now Adenosine is responsible for giving a cue to your brain to take a nap. So caffeine stops the brain from getting the “slow down” signal, which the adenosine would have given it. So caffeine is not really giving you the kick, it is just tricking the brain into thinking it got a boost. Sneaky no? This substitution also causes your blood pressure and heart rate to go up.
Although all these effects come together to cause the whole zippy, feeling-awake-sensation, too much caffeine can turn sour pretty quick. Ask any coffee lover, they know the feeling: jitters, anxiety and restlessness.
Does that not sound like a drug?
The research also talks about caffeine withdrawal. When you come down after a caffeine high, heavy users often experience headaches, difficulty in concentration and depression. So you wake up in the morning experiencing symptoms of withdrawal and reach for the first cup of the day again, and, well… I believe the words “vicious” and “cycle” apply.
The DSM-5 calls caffeine intake as “self medication”. The US FDA has also started its own research on this.
How Much Caffeine Can I Have Per Day?
Your parents had 3-4 cups of coffee, but never faced a health issue? Well, their cup was only 8 ounces. Today the tall Starbucks cup is 50% more than that. And not just coffee, there is a high amount of this stimulant in tea, soda, candy, gum, energy drinks as well as alcohol.
Scientists say that a maximum of 400 ml of caffeine is okay for a non-pregnant individual. That roughly comes to three small shots of espresso, taking into account that your caffeine intake is not coming from any other source.
It’s pretty nice to hear that my heart is not going to explode from that third cuppa! Moderation is the key, my friends. So let’s keep it well under the 400ml mark, shall we?
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